GTA: Tehran

Navid Khonsari, a videogame director known for his work on the Grand Theft Auto series, has created an open-world game that takes place during the Iranian revolution:

In fact, most of the game play in “1979 Revolution” is a battle of wits and ethical dilemmas, rather than the shoot-em-ups of Khonsari’s more notorious games. “Like the Arab Spring, [the Iranian revolution] was exciting and scary, but not overtly violent,” Khonsari noted. Though frustrated, Khonsari can understand the nerves he has touched. “For [Iranian exiles], 1979 was the quintessential moment when their lives were upturned,” he said. “I left Iran in 1979, and that was important for the rest of my life. A lot of Iranians want to bury this past. The younger [Irans emigrants] get it. They are disassociated enough from that event that they see the possibility of this being an amazing experience to learn what their uncles went through,” he continued.

A former history major, Khonsari hopes “1979” can inspire a genre of games that provide a ringside seat at major historical events. “My father warned me that nothing good could come out of doing things in politics,” Khonsari said. “He also supported us when he saw it wasn’t political, but part of what I’m doing is to be a template for his grandkids to learn about historical events, not through dates and facts, but through experiencing it.” He also hopes the game’s narrative depth, which features original audio recordings and photography from 1979, will resonate with youths in Iran and won’t be just a historical curiosity.

(Video from the game’s Kickstarter page)